Bible, Christian living, creation care

Creation Cries Out

A devotional written for Creation Care Week at Wayland Baptist University. Published on Earth Day 2022.

If you missed it somehow, a war is raging in Ukraine the past two months.  While stories of the war seem ever-present in our newscasts and newsfeeds, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is by no means the only war presently occurring in the world.  What, you might ask, does war have to do with Creation Care?

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War does not only have a heavy human toll through death, dismemberment, and mental trauma.  Nor is it limited to the destruction of cities and infrastructure necessary for civilization and human thriving.  War also affects the environment.  One study of greenhouse gas emissions released by weapons of war discovered 1.2 million metric tons of gases were released during the twenty year global War on Terror—an annual emissions rate more than double that generated by all U.S. automobiles.  Wildfires from incendiary bombs or simply human negligence is another threat.  In 2008, a wildfire destroyed large portions of the forests of Borjomi and Khagarauli national parks during Russia’s war with Georgia.  During the battles around the port city of Kherson, fires erupted in the Black Sea Biosphere Refuge, fires severe enough to be seen from space.  The biosphere was the winter home for many migratory birds and an important breeding habitat.  Even when habitats aren’t destroyed, the frequent movement of troops and equipment and the constant noise of war leads to disruption of the animal population.  According to a Georgian environmentalist, there was a noticeable migration of animals fleeing over the Caucasus Mountains from Chechnya to Georgia during the Chechen insurrection against the Russian Federation in the 1990s.

War also creates ecological damage when human industry is targeted.  Intentional damage to oil export equipment along the Black Sea has destroyed marine habitat.  The sudden closures of mines in the Donbas region as civilians flee the current Russian assault may result in toxins seeping into aquifers as no one is at the mines to ensure proper pumping operations.  Chemical plants and nuclear power plants could being hit, releasing toxins or radioactive material into the atmosphere, land, and watershed.  And the ecological impact of this war isn’t limited to Europe.  Ukraine and Russia account for a third of grain exports worldwide.  Between the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and Western sanctions against Russian exports, the United Nations warns a food crisis will likely impact Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. 

Creation is in distress because of human actions.  As Paul puts it, “creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it” yet there is still “hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into . . . freedom and glory.”  This hope is rooted in creation’s “eager expectation” for the disclosure (apokalupsin) of the “Sons of God.”  Creation waits for this hope, groaning in its suffering and crying out in its anticipation of this apocalyptic moment when the Sons of God reveal themselves as healers, redeemers, and liberators (Rom 8:18-22).  Now, your English translation might have “children of God” (as the NIV does) instead of the literal “Sons of God.”  “Children” certainly is a more inclusive term and does fit Paul’s overall meaning, but “children” loses the symbolic nuance of what Paul is asserting. 

The term “Son of God” was a term for the kings of ancient Israel.  When Jesus was called “Son of God” during his earthly life, those who used the title meant the human king who would restore David’s kingdom.  (Only after the resurrection does the title begin to develop divine signification.)  Paul says Christians are kings (and queens).  We are part of Christ’s mission.  We are to work to establish the Kingdom of God.  Paul tells us we are adopted as sons (and daughters) by God to be “co-heirs” with Christ, sharing both in his suffering and in his glory (Rom 8:15-17).  Jesus himself referred to believers as Sons of God.  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. . . .  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God” (Matt 5:5, 9).  Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has argued that Vladimir Putin is the Defender of the Russian Orthodox faith on a divine mission to reclaim the sacred lands of Holy Rus (a land that includes Ukraine).  Yet Jesus says the true Sons of God are not warmongers or authoritarian strongmen, whether Tiberius Caesar or Vladimir Putin, but are instead meek peacemakers.

As we strive to see the Lord’s Prayer realized, working with the Father to bring earth into alignment with his will just as heaven already is (Matt 6:10), we should be reconcilers, peacemakers, and healers—not just for humans, not only for societies, but for creation itself.  While we will not fully realize our potential until Jesus returns and the Kingdom comes in its fullness, we are called today to live in the Spirit and to strive to live up to our calling as kings and queens (i.e., Sons of God) co-reigning with Jesus.  Can you hear creation?  It cries out with Jesus, “Blessed are the meek!  Blessed are the peacemakers!”

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Image by Anastasia Vlasova from Getty Images as used in the ABC News story below. “A rocket sits in a field near grazing cows on April 10, 2022 in Lukashivka village, Ukraine.”

The Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011 (with clarifying modification).

Anthes, Emily. “A ‘Silent Victim’: How Nature Becomes a Casualty of War.” The New York Times, April 20, 2022.

Jacobo, Julia. “Experts Predict Lasting Environmental Damage from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine.” ABC News, April 20, 2022.

Kekenadze, Davit. “The Environment: The Silent Causualty of the Ukraine War.” Euronews, April 17, 2022.

Christian living, religion, World Religions

Christian Reflections on Kabbalah and the Hasidim

Kabbalah has a long tradition, with origins stretching back at least a century prior to Jesus.  One influential leader was the Medieval Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as Ari (the Lion), who lived in the 1500s.  The Ari said that at creation the divine light filled ten vessels, some of which shattered under the weight of such glory.  Fragments of light from these shattered vessels scattered throughout creation, along with fragments of darkness.  It is now the responsibility of humans to help end chaos by gathering together these divine sparks of holiness in an effort to help repair the world (tikkun olam).

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This is very similar to John’s view of the pre-incarnate Logos, the Word that became flesh in Jesus (1:14).  He was the light that was coming into the world to enlighten every human (1:9).  John (or Jesus) even said that, when the full light comes (the good news of Messiah Jesus), those who have lived by the truth (the light they have received) will step into the light so all can see the works they have done were because of the Logos (3:19-21).  Second century apologist Justin Martyr further developed John’s Logos Christology in a way similar to the Ari’s scattered fragments of light.  Justin said the seeds of the Logos are scattered throughout creation.  Wherever we discover truth (or goodness) in the world—whether in the Bible, in culture, or even in another religion—it is there because it is a seed of the Logos.

Unlike the Ari’s view that there were only ten vessels for this light, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4 that, through the gospel of Jesus, the light of creation shines in the darkness of our hearts.  We do not need to fear that we are damaged “jars of clay,” however.  The stress cracks, the flaws, even the brokenness of our lives—they are all simply opportunities for the light of Christ to stream out of us.  In our weakness, all can see that his light and life are the true source of our strength and our hope (2Co 12:7-10).  Elsewhere, Paul tells us the world groans for the sons and daughters of God (that is, the kings and queens of the kingdom) to be revealed.  Creation cries out for us to be ever more conformed to the image of Jesus, so that our actions reflect his and we join him as co-creators in the work of restoring the world (Rom 8:14-30) and redeeming the beauty and truth scattered throughout all cultures (Rev 5:8-10).

While the Ari saw this gathering of the light centered in the individual, through ascetic practices, prayer, and Torah observance, two centuries later Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer took these ideas in a different direction.  Called the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name, abbreviated Besht) by his followers, he led many Jews to embrace Hasidism (ecstatic piety) in the midst of anti-Jewish riots and severe poverty.  Without denying Torah observance, rituals, and rules, the Besht emphasized the importance of embracing the inner, mystical Torah.  This loving embrace of God could come from any Jew, whether they were a Talmud scholar or not.  Because God is immanent, he taught we can worship God through our everyday actions, whenever these acts are done in joyful thanks to God and loving service to others. 

As Elie Wiesel notes, the Besht took the Ari’s idea of gathering the scattered sparks and turned it into a communal experience.  When we are isolated and alone, we can study the Torah and observe it well, but all that is nothing if it is not for our neighbor, for our community (Souls on Fire, 32-33).  Just as embers die out when separated but kindle hot and bright when gathered together, the Besht emphasized the need for community.

Certainly, Christians can hear the call of Paul to love one another and overcome selfish ambition (Phil 2:1-5), as well as Paul’s emphasis that gifts are nothing unless they are used in service for the community (1Co 13).  We can also agree that everyday tasks can be acts of worship, for the most mundane tasks of life are transformed into moments of worship by Jesus.  The drudgery of walking along a road became a new way of thinking that caused two disciples’ hearts to burn (Lk 24:13-32).  The daily task of drawing water from a well became one woman’s opportunity to find living water (Jn 4:1-30).  A routine task of mending fishing nets became a lifelong calling to follow Jesus (Mk 4:21-22).  The same Jesus who encountered these people is living and active in each of us through his gift of the Spirit (Eph 3:14-21).  Paul’s invitation to give our lives as living sacrifices is not a call to grandious actions (Rom 12:1-2).  We are to consider every moment a moment of prayer, a moment of service, just as he sang praises in a dark prison cell after being beaten with rods (Ac 16:22-25).  But where the Besht seemed to limit this community to fellow Jews, Jesus pushes us far beyond our own community.  He calls us to love enemies (Mt 5:43-48) and reconcile divisions (Col 3:11-17).

So let us be co-creators with God, making the world a better place.  In humility, we should love our neighbors and rejoice in our labor.  May we pray that God’s kingdom come on earth, and may we do our part to bring all things under the feet of King Jesus.  “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16). 

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sermon, Stories That Shape Our Life

Saved to Serve

Christians observe a sacred meal commemorating Jesus’ death. Depending on your tradition, it is called the Lord’s Supper, communion, or the eucharist. On his final evening, Jesus instituted this meal using two elements from the Jewish Passover meal–bread and wine. The Jewish Passover is a remembrance of God’s liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Specifically, it refers to the last of the ten plagues God sent against Egypt, when the Angel of Death passed over the homes that had the blood of a lamb on their doorframes but killed all the firstborn sons in homes not protected by the lamb’s blood. Jesus connected his coming death to this Passover story, that those covered in his blood would not know eternal death. After the stories of the plagues and the exodus, the description of the Passover festival, and the crossing of the sea, Exodus 19 tells of the Hebrews’ arrival at Mount Sinai as the end of this rescue operation and the start of a covenantal relationship between God and Israel.

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God Saved the People from Bondage (Ex 19:4)

God begins by emphasizing his liberation of the people, that he rescued them on eagle’s wings and carried them to himself. They had been enslaved in Egypt. God appeared to Moses and told him that he heard the Israelites’ cries and groans, so God was sending Moses to liberate them. The ten plagues of the exodus were an undoing of the creation story in Genesis 1. At creation, God took the dark, chaotic waters and brought life and order out of them. In the exodus, however, when Pharaoh refused to release the people, God unleased a series of plagues that took the ordered life of the great empire and brought it crumbling down into chaos and disorder. Like Genesis 1, the plague stories begin with chaotic waters (the Nile turning red and killing fish). While Genesis 1 ends with the creation of human life as the culminating act of order out of the chaos, the end of the exodus plagues is not life but death, the death of the firstborns.

With this, Pharaoh lets the people leave, then changes his mind and chases after them. The chaotic waters return once again in the form of a sea of water separating the people from any hope of escape as Pharaoh’s chariots bear down upon them. Yet God saves his people by simultaneously bringing order and salvation to them while bringing chaos and destruction to Pharaoh’s army. First, God separated the darkness from the light (with Egypt in one and Israel in the other), just as in the first day of creation. Then, the wind/Spirit of God hovered over the waters until land appeared (like day three). God created a way for his people to find life through the midst of the chaos, as he protected them. When the Egyptian army pursued through the waters, God removes his protective presence, and the waters returned to the chaos they had been before. The army lay dead and God’s people stood liberated and free. This is what God reminds them of as they stand at the mountain of God, the very place where Moses first received his calling to rescue the people. Now, however, God extends this call to all the people assembled before him, to those he had redeemed.

God Invited the People to Serve (Ex 19:5-8)

Now God invites them into a relationship with him. After reminding them how he redeemed them, he makes a covenant with them. If they fully keep the instructions he will give to them, then God offers them a unique relational status. Notice they are rescued first, then they are invited into covenant. This is a pointer to the fact that salvation is not based on our works but rather it is a free gift of God. God liberated the people. Now he invites them to show their thankfulness to him for that liberation by keeping his covenantal instructions. If they fully obey this covenant, then out of all the nations they will be his treasured possession. If they fully keep these commandments, then out of the whole earth they will be a nation set apart as a kingdom of priests. When the people hear this offer, they reply, “we will.” We will keep this covenant fully and fully obey these instructions. Unfortunately, the history of the nation demonstrates they do not.

God Called the People to Consecration (Ex 19:9-25)

To prepare for this covenant, God told the people to consecrate themselves for two days. They were to wash their clothes and avoid sexual relations. That is, they were to cleanse themselves and disrupt the daily routines of life in preparation and expectation of something new and marvelous. They were also asked to treat the mountain as holy (that is, to treat it as set apart). Anyone setting foot on the mountain was to be put to death. They were to respect God and not think they were on equal footing with the divine. This was his mountain at the moment. He was about to set foot upon it so they should respect it.

On the third day, the Lord would descend from heaven upon the mountain and pronounce the covenant. God promises Moses that God’s actions would result in the people realizing that Moses was indeed God’s chosen leader so that they would place their trust in him. Anytime Christians sense God’s call to a new venture–whether the calling of a new minister, the start of a new ministry, or a new pursuit within one’s family or one’s personal life–we should prepare ourselves through prayer and consecration. We should ready ourselves to listen for the voice of God and to accept his call.

God Pointed Toward His Ultimate Plan (Rev 5:9-14)

As we observed above, the people were called to fully obey the covenant yet none of them over the centuries was able to do so, save one. Jesus kept the covenant fully and he did so for all of us, whether Israelite or not. Jesus was the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15) who voluntarily became Egypt’s firstborn to die in our place. He was the Lamb whose blood covered us and so allowed death to pass over those who accept his sacrifice. In the Revelation, the Song of the Lamb picks up this imagery from Exodus 19 alongside the imagery of Jesus as the Passover lamb. Jesus’ blood purchased us and so now we have become his treasured possession. No longer is this treasured possession one people “out of all the nations.” Rather, in Christ, we who are “out of every nation” are now one people, the people of the Lamb. We are called to serve him as kings and queens and priests. We are to serve God by serving our fellow human beings even as we represent him to the world. We are not saved for our own benefit. We are saved to serve.

Each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we should recall the words of Jesus. He said the bread was his body broken for us. As we partake of the bread, we should dedicate ourselves to acts of service that will honor Jesus by restoring his body and making it whole. What person do you know who needs to become part of Jesus’ body today? Will you consecrate yourself to service for that person, to witness to your Lord and Savior who died for them? Jesus also took the cup and said it was his blood poured out for us. As Jesus gave his life for us, we are called to pour out our lives in service to him and to others. Who in your sphere of influence needs your service today? How will you be Jesus’ priest to that person? Jesus set us free to serve. May we serve one another because he first served us.

Saved to Serve (Exodus 19)

sermon, Stories That Shape Our Life

Created to Bear the Image

During Christmas, my older son, Christian, watched old home movies with me, my wife, and my parents. The videos were primarily of a time when I was about the same age as Christian and his younger brother, Isaac. “That looks just like Isaac!” Christian remarked several time whenever my younger self made some face or reacted in a certain way on the video. It was in those moments that Isaac “bore my image.” He grew up watching me and so picked up some of my mannerisms and actions. (I’m sure there were points in the videos that Christian could have remarked, “That looks just like me!” but Christian doesn’t see himself as others do.) Just as Isaac bears my image, the Bible begins with a story of God creating us to bear his image (Gen 1:1-2:4).

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The first thing we find in the text is that we are imagined by a creative God. The story begins with the Spirit of God hovering over the dark chaotic waters. And then God created light and separated it from the darkness, the first of many creative acts over six days progressively remaking that dark, chaotic, watery mess into an orderly, diverse, and beautiful cosmos. The movement from chaotic darkness to order and light is even emphasized with the daily summary statement: there was evening and there was morning, the x day. By the end of the sixth day, God saw his creation was very good, so on the seventh day he assumed his sabbath rest from this creative work. What hope this story holds for our moment in history. 2020 has been a dark, chaotic, turbulent time–a time when many felt they were drowning in the churning waters of gloom and darkness. As a new year dawns, we can trust God that he is still in the ordering, creating, beautifying business. He can bring light and order to our new year even in the midst of the pandemic’s continuing chaotic disruptions and moments of dark despair.

In the story, God simply speaks and his will is done. He doesn’t wrestle with the chaos. He doesn’t have to exert himself in labor. The story emphasizes God is powerful, so we can place our faith in him to care for us. Days 1-3 emphasize there is no place in creation that he did not make. Days 4-6 tell us everything that exists in all of these spaces was also made my him. Therefore, we can trust him, for there is no danger too great, no obstacle too big, no mission too difficult. The same creative Spirit that ordered this chaos now lives within those who serve the risen Christ. While we often wish we could jump immediately to day seven, the day of rest, we usually find our immediate circumstances to be chaotic or even dark as we wait on God to finish the work he is doing. Even so, we can trust God to see us through, for the story helps us see that God has a plan that leads to a beautiful destination.

A second key insight we find in the text is that we are created as image-bearers and co-creators. The climax of the first creation story is that we are created in the image of God. While some older English translations speak of God making “man” in his image (in its older sense of all humankind), most modern translations speak of “humankind” or “humanity.” This is clearly the meaning of the text as its next statement says humanity was created “male and female.” The second creation story emphasizes that humanity is not truly humanity until it consists of both males and females (for the male is incomplete until the female is created at the end of the story). The image as “male and female” helps us conceive of a great God who is bigger than all of us. God is neither male nor female, but the best qualities seen in males and the best qualities observed in females provide us a glimpse into the character of God.

This social dimension of the image of God (male and female) emphasizes the vital importance of community. The second creation story culminates with the cry of the male that the female is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” While on one level this is focused on the institution of marriage, the larger emphasis with the two creation stories is that humanity is not “according to its kind” (a phrase used of the animals in the first story) until the male discovers another of his kind, even though she is at the same time different from him. The animals prior to the woman’s creation were not sufficient, for they could not provide the true community needed for human flourishing. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we are made for community and not isolation. True, healthy community is ultimately discovered through personal, face-to-face connections. Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, and other “social media” are helpful temporary patches (especially during lock-down), but they can never replace genuine community. This past year certainly showed us that social media can be weaponized when we are not in community, making these tools no longer “social” and certainly not civil. Christians should not engage in such anti-social behavior (though unfortunately, they did). Instead, we should seek to be one image as one body, just as the God whom we image is both one yet also a society of Father, Son, and Spirit. Our call to unity should always welcome and accept diversity within our community.

Humans as the “image of God” also means that we are living, breathing idols of our God. The importance the Bible gives to each human as bearing God’s image is precisely why idolatry is prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Sometimes Christians are confused by the 330 million gods of Hinduism which are said to represent different aspects or sides of the one God–yet our Bible teaches us that we have almost 8 billion images of the one God! But we do not need idols made of stone, metal, or wood to help us learn about God or to aid us in demonstrating our devotion to God. We have each other. This is why the prophets were so concerned about injustice and unrighteousness. True worship of God is to treat your neighbor as yourself and to do to others as you would want them to do to you. That we are the image of God means that every word we speak matters, for we speak for God. Every act we do matters, for we act on behalf of God. Because every human is made in the image of God, it matters how we treat one another. “They” are not our enemy to slander or destroy. “They” should be honored as the very image of God–even when we disagree with something they say or do. This is why Jesus, when his opponents attempted to trap him with a question about paying taxes to Caesar, held up a coin and asked whose “image” was on the coin. When they said Caesar’s, Jesus told them to give to Caesar what bears Caesar’s image and to give to God what bears God’s image (ourselves). In other words, stop worrying about the taxes and the politics and just love your neighbor. If you do, everything else will work out.

Humans as image-bearers are also given dominion over creation. In the Ancient Near East, it was normally the king who was the image of God and this image gave him the right to rule. All others served the king. But the Bible takes the radical step to place the burden of dominion on us all. We are all kings and queens. God is to rule over us and we are to rule over creation. Unfortunately, dominion too often has been misunderstood by Christians to mean we can do whatever we like with the world. Look at the current climate concerns that exist. (Regardless of your view on the extent of humanity’s impact on climate change, 2020 helped us see that we can indeed make changes that do benefit the rest of creation). The biblical view of dominion, however, is that of responsible stewardship. We are to tend the garden (in the second creation story). We are to care for animals. We are not to misuse the land.

Finally, the call to be in the image of God means that we are intended to be co-creators with God. The Ancient Near Eastern creation myths tended to say humans were created as servants for the gods (that is, the priests and the king–those who were the representatives of the gods). But Genesis emphasizes that we are created to be creators with God. God names the spaces in the start of the first creation story (e.g., light, sky, land) but not the many animals that fill those spaces in the latter part of the story. Yet in the second creation story, God creates various animals and brings them to the human to name. It is the first act of co-creation. We are created not only to think and to be self-aware but to be creative. Music, art, dance, science, technology–all of these flow out of us. We are the only creature who can imagine things that are not (such as communicators in Star Trek or radio-watches in Dick Tracy) and decades later create those imagined things (smartphones–especially the original flip phones–and wearable technology). The call to co-create carries throughout the Bible into the new creation of the Revelation. We do not find a return to a garden at the end of the Bible but the emergence of a city that has a garden within it.

So if humanity was created to be image-bearers, to live in community, to reflect God to one another, to rule over God’s creation for him, and to co-create with him . . . why is the world the way it is? Genesis 3 talks about a fall that changes humans in some manner so that we are exiled from the presence of God, while the rest of the Bible is about God’s restoration of creation. It is like we are mirrors intended to reflect God to one another but our mirrors are now shifted so that they do not reflect properly. Some reflect a partial image. Others may be warped so the image is skewed. Yet others have moved so much that there is not even a partial reflection of God remaining. This is what we often call sin and it impacts all of us, non-Christians and Christians alike.

This fallen image leads us to the final idea from the passage. We are reimaged for the new creation. The New Testament refocuses us on Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. He is said to be the image of the invisible God. Christians are called to put off the old man (Adam) and put on the new man (Christ), an action which helps renew us as the image of God. That is, we consciously strive to stop living a life of sin and start conforming our life to the image of God’s Son, Jesus. Day by day we continue this process, though it will not ultimately be fulfilled until the resurrection from the dead.

This resurrection will take place in a new creation. While many Christians today speak of “going to heaven,” that is not a concept found in the Bible itself (at least, it is not the primary goal). God’s creative work is still ongoing. Those who are baptized into Christ and follow him already are the first glimpses of this coming new creation, which Peter says in his second letter will culminate in a new heavens and new earth of righteousness after this creation is destroyed by fire. But interestingly, both 2 Peter and the Revelation do not use the Greek word for “brand new” (neos) but the one for “refurbished” or “renewed” (kainos). God will not destroy this creation but will renew and restore it so that finally heaven and earth will be united.

If God would have to annihilate the present cosmos, Satan would have won a great victory. For then Satan would have succeeded in so devastatingly corrupting the present cosmos and the present earth that God could do nothing with it but to blot it totally out of existence. But Satan has been decisively defeated. God will reveal the full dimensions of that defeat when he shall renew this very earth on which Satan deceived mankind and finally banish from it all the results of Satan’s evil machinations.

Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 281

This is what we see even in the first creation story. We try to read the story sometimes as if it is all past, as if it is trying to teach us about the very beginning of things. Genesis 1:1-2:4, however, is giving us the grand introduction to the divine project that will encompass the remainder of the Bible. You will note that in days one through six of the story, there is evening and there is morning. On day seven, however, after God has declared all that has gone before to be “very good,” God rests. He enters into his creation as gods of the ancient world would be conceived to enter into their temples. And as heaven and earth become one, there is no final repetition of evening and morning in day 7. It just “is.” Zechariah and Isaiah pick up on this hope of an eternal day–a time when creation will finally be complete as God intends it to be. The Revelation picks up these same ideas by saying there is no need for sun nor moon for God is the light and the Lamb is his lamp. Day seven has not yet happened. It will only happen when God’s project is complete.

There is a story about a father working hard at home on a project that was due the next day at his office. His nine year old son persistently asked to “help” on the project, so the father decided he needed something to distract his son. The father noticed a map of the world in a magazine on the table and gently tore the page out. He cut the world into little pieces and handed these–along with tape–to his son. He told the son it was a puzzle to put together, confident it would take days to finish such a difficult task. In a couple of hours, however, his son called out that he was finished. The father had doubts, since the son had never really seen the whole world and shouldn’t know how to quickly reassemble it, but sure enough the picture of the world was complete and in tact. “How did you do it?” he asked. The son said that as his father pulled the map out of the magazine, he noticed there was a man’s face on the other side of the page. When the boy started having difficulty putting the world together, he decided to flip the pieces and reassemble the image of the man instead. When he finished restoring the man’s face, he found the world was also put back together. We are created to bear the image of God to the world. When Christians begin to reflect the image of Christ, our community, our problems, our world will begin to be put back to rights. It will begin to be healed. We are invited by the almighty God to co-create with him as he builds the new creation–starting with each of us.

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“Created To Bear the Image” (Gen 1:1-2:4)